The insurance adjuster says my car is totaled, but I didn’t think it was that badly damaged. Do I have to accept their check instead of getting my car repaired? Do I have to go along with the amount they are offering?
When an insurance adjuster declares a car “totaled,” this means the insurer has decided it will cost them more to repair the car for you than they could make by paying you off and selling your car for scrap. Like anything an insurer tells you after an accident, you have a right to question a declaration that your car is totaled.
Of course, in some cases, a wrecked car is plainly totaled. But if it’s a close call, you have the right to challenge the adjuster’s finding. It may be to your benefit to do so.
Adjusters are supposed to determine the value of a wrecked car by comparing it to local prices for similar vehicles (same make, model, year and mileage) and values in such guides as the Kelley Blue Book. Sometimes, the database of “local” prices an insurer consults is outdated or not really local. Keep in mind also that they don’t have to go strictly by the Blue Book.
If your car has value that an adjuster may not understand, like upgraded after-market parts, their settlement offer should be closely scrutinized.
To learn more, please see our section on Vehicle Repair / Replacement.
Posted in: Car Accidents